Points to ponder as the Canucks not only talked the talk, they walked to walk to open a 3-1 lead before squandering a 4-3 edge. Chris Tanev won it in overtime as the Canucks collected a confidence-building 5-4 decision Thursday over the red-hot Golden Knights at Rogers Arena:
YES, THE TAN MAN CAN:“I didn’t think it (pass) was going to get to me and ended up on my stick and I went around Fleury’
Hands up. Who had Chris Tanev in the overtime-goal pool? Nobody? Thought so.
Tanev does so much for the Canucks on a nightly basis — he led the club with three blocked shots Thursday and is third in the NHL with 83 blocks — and the fact he found a way to beat Marc-Andre Fleury for the overtime winner for his second goal of the season was beyond poetic justice.
His effort was better than his celebration and judging by the post-game reaction in the room, the decisive goal couldn’t have gone to a better guy.
“I’m super happy for Taney,” said Jacob Markstrom, whose late-game blocker save off Paul Stastny could have been the headline. “He’s been playing good and he’s a guy who never complains and always does more than expected.”
“That was pretty,” added Tanner Pearson. “I’m not so sure about his celebration, but the goal was pretty.”
As for the winner, Tanev seemed somewhat surprised that the pass actually got to him and he somehow got it by Fleury.
“I just passed it to Bo (Horvat) and went to the net and he made a really great pass,” started Tanev. “I didn’t think it was going to get to me and ended up on my stick and I went around Fleury and it ended up going in.
“We’ve been struggling lately and it’s been tough to find wins and it’s big. Hopefully, we can get on a roll. They took it to us badly in Las Vegas (6-3 loss Sunday) and it’s huge to get a win against a team that you know is going to be there at the end of the season.”
GREEN SEES GOLD: ‘This was a little bit of a hurdle against that team. They’ve had their way with us. We stood tall’
This how the Canucks coach started his post-game press conference:
“Good effort. We had a lot of guys play well and a hell of a win against a really good team. I didn’t feel like we were under siege at all and I loved the way we started the game.
“You get up on a team like that by a couple of goals and you know they’re still going to get their chances. But it wasn’t like we were going to sit back and defend. We had the lull in the second period and I liked how we got our composure back.”
He could have gone on an on because after three-straight losses and four in the last five games, a hockey-mad market was mad. Who was to blame? The players, the coach, the general manager.
But on a night where Elias Pettersson not only scored two goals but looked more than comfortable in a big boys’ game — he also rang another shot off the crossbar — there was a lot to take from the game. The Canucks didn’t get run out of their building when the Golden Knights cranked up the hitting and poking and prodding and jabbing.
You want a taste of what it could be like if the Canucks make the postseason? Well, you got it Thursday. Green even called a time-out after the Golden Knights rallied for two quick second-period goals to make it 3-3.
“It was a chance for our team to take a breath and the confidence level of our team is probably not as high as it has been,” admitted Green. “I maybe sensed we were fragile for a few seconds after they tied it. It happened fast. I just wanted us to re-focus and it (win) takes a little pressure off them.
“It also justifies that this was a little bit of a hurdle for us against that team. They’ve had their way with us. And when they crank it up physically, it can go one of two ways — either you crumble and back off or stand tall — and I thought we stood tall. Down the road when we start playing playoff games, it’s going to be heavy like that.”
MARKSTROM’S GAME-SAVER: ‘You want to have an impact. You want to help and that was my time to step up’
The Canucks weren’t going to totally deny a club on an 8-2-1 roll heading into Thursday’s clash. They knew it. Jacob Markstrom knew it.
He kept his poise early in the game when the Golden Knights pressed for the equalizer by staying square and calm. He denied Chandler Stephenson on a short-handed opportunity before Pearson struck to make it 2-1 on the power play. There was that backhander chance in tight in tight by Mark Stone.
Markstrom had little chance on the goals that beat him and gave the Canucks a chance to win — especially when he robbed Stastny with a blocker save on a power play late in regulation and had 38 saves before overtime.
“The puck kind of came out back side and it was more of a desperation save and I just tried to get over to the post as quick as possible,” said Markstrom. “That was a timely save. You want to have an impact. You want to help the guys and that was my time to step up.
“We just needed a win and I didn’t care how it looked. They don’t dump a lot of pucks in. They cycle and lot and they’re all about possession — a little bit of European-style hockey. You see the Russian and Swedes do that stuff and they don’t like to give away the pucks when they have it.”
KILLING THEM SOFTLY:‘If you’re slipping, you kind of let them dictate the PP instead of you dictating the PK’
There’s no glamour in penalty killing.
Do it right and nobody really notices because it doesn’t show in individual statistics — unless you’re taking the draws — and doing it wrong often puts you in the highlight reel for the wrong reason.
Jay Beagle has made a career of being a force in the face-off circle, being good in shutdown match-ups and a pain to play against on the power play. And when the penalty kill goes from top-10 status to 16th and just 24h at home, it’s going to raise eyebrows.
To his credit, Beagle knows how to keep it light in the room and even in warm-ups and owns it when it’s a mea culpa.
The Montreal Canadiens scored on their two power-play chances Tuesday to turn a 1-1 struggle into a 3-1 cushion. The Vegas Golden Knights scored on two of their four chances Sunday in a 6-3 triumph and they went 0-for-1 on Thursday because the Canucks were disciplined in a game that featured 53 hits.
Penalty kill success isn’t rocket science. It’s predicated on push and structure and health.
At one point this season, prime kill guys Beagle, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte were all sidelined by ailments, It pressed Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson and Loui Eriksson into those roles with mixed results. Beagle is at his best with Tim Schaller, who was re-inserted into the lineup Thursday in place of the injured Sutter.
So, what’s missing?
“It’s that urgency and compete,” said Beagle. “Even that game (Tuesday), the guy (Tomas Tatar) slips in behind me and I wasn’t urgent enough on my part. They get the 2-1 goal (PP) and the next one (PP) and we lose because we didn’t get the job done on the PK.
“Familiarity is huge. It makes the job that much easier because you know exactly what he (PK partner) is going to do before he does it. But when guys get hurt, there are switch-ups and changes and you have to still learn to get the job done — no matter what.
“There lots of talk. I like killing with Motte, too, because he’s very smart and has a great stick. It’s just a matter now of knowing his tendencies and making sure that we’re talking a lot and reading off each other. And sometimes, that takes a little bit of time to come, too.”
Beagle is usually a beast in defensive-zone draws. He’s seventh overall with a 57.9 per cent success rate and has won 58 of 101 PK assignments, even though he has to take draws on his weak side because the PK gets to dictate O-zone face-offs.
“They’re so key because if you’re slipping, you kind of let them dictate the PP instead of you dictating the PK,” added Beagle. “Even if we don’t clear, they’re fighting to get the puck back.”
BOUCHER’S RECORD BLAST: ‘I’ve seen him make some crazy plays and win games. He can score in a lot of ways’
Reid Boucher isn’t the faster skater, but he has a quick grip on NHL reality.
The Utica Comets winger set a franchise record for career goals Wednesday with his 76th in 125 AHL games during a 4-3 win at Belleville. He passed Darren Archibald, who managed 75 in 304 games.
Boucher not only has 20 goals in his first 24 outings this season — the left-winger leads the league in that category and his 34 points are tied for the best output — but his ability to understand the roster rationale and recall pecking order with the parent club, while leading by example in the minors is a major accomplishment.
“I take everything in practices seriously when it comes to shooting the puck and trying to score in practice and that’s been part of my success for the last couple of years,” said Boucher. “I don’t think it’s a matter of staying positive, it’s controlling what I can control. I can’t control being called up or sent down, but I can control how hard I work.”
His roster fate was cemented on Day 1 of training camp at Victoria. The arrival of wingers J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland through offseason acquisitions only added to a glut of forwards. A leaner and driven Boucher was there to push the pace and push those who had been pencilled into a particular place.
He did just that.
And being on his fourth-consecutive one-year contract — this one pays US$750,000 at the NHL level and $450,000 in the AHL — is as much about handling his attitude as his game.
“He’s a good pro,” said Green. “He’s a big part of their team and a good leader, too, and that’s one thing that goes unnoticed. And when you talk about dragging them into the fight, he’s a guy with who it’s not just about goals with him — every day he plays hard and will fight once in a while.
“I have a lot of respect for what he’s done down there.”
It’s the shot that sets Boucher apart.
A quick, hard and accurate release allowed the 26-year-old Lansing, Mich. native to score 20 goals in 133 career NHL games with New Jersey, Nashville and Vancouver.
He uses an STX composite stick that has a 75 flex rate, which players have called a “noodle.” Brock Boeser made his mark as a rookie with a 90 flex because he has the strength and skill to get a lot on his shot and pick corners. What’s the deal with Boucher’s low-flex stick?
“It lets me shoot the same with less effort,” he said. “Shoot hard without loading the stick as much and it comes off (the blade) quicker.”
Jalen Chatfield is in his third season with the Comets and has witnessed Boucher’s impact. The recalled derenceman lauded Boucher’s caring, work ethic and leadership.
“He was really great for me my first year down there,” said the 23-year-old Chatfield. “He a big part every night and when he’s out, you can see it in our power play. He’s one of the best — if not the best — scorers in the AHL.
“I’ve seen him make some crazy plays and win games for us. He can score in a lot of ways. If teams let him slip away, he moves around and reacts with that shot — he’s always a threat.”
Valdez, Astros grab ALCS lead after dominant Game 5 win over Red Sox – Sportsnet.ca
BOSTON — Framber Valdez lost his perfect game and then bounced the following pitch off the next batter’s leg.
Astros manager Dusty Baker decided it was time for a chat.
“That’s the time when you’ve really got to settle him down,” Baker said. “I said `Hey, you’re the best. Just be natural and do your thing.’ I didn’t say a whole bunch to him.”
It was enough to get Valdez through the inning — and more.
Perfect through four, the Houston left-hander took a two-hit shutout into the seventh and became the first pitcher this postseason to complete eight innings, leading the Astros over Boston 9-1 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.
Yordan Alvarez had three hits and three RBIs for Houston, which needs could clinch a second straight trip to the World Series with a victory at home on Friday night.
The Red Sox need a win to force a deciding seventh game on Saturday.
“We came back to Boston exactly where we wanted to be: We were 1-1,” Red Sox starter Chris Sale said. “Not in a good spot going back to Houston. There’s no denying that, but this team has won two games in the playoffs back-to-back before, and we think we can do it again.”
One day after the Astros scored seven runs to break a ninth-inning tie, they hung another crooked number on the Fenway Park scoreboard, chasing Sale while scoring five runs in the sixth. Alvarez, who homered in the second and singled in the fourth, had a two-run double to break things open.
That was plenty for Valdez, who extended the staff’s shutout streak to 14 straight innings before Rafael Devers homered with one out in the seventh — one of just three hits for Boston. The left-hander departed after retiring the Red Sox in order in the eighth.
“If a guy’s dealing, you just let him keep dealing,” Baker said. “Today, it was in the hands of Framber. Everybody talks about momentum, but momentum is controlled by the pitcher. If the pitcher’s dealing, all that momentum’s gone.”
In all, Valdez gave up one run on three hits, one walk and a hit batter, striking out five. He was also the first opposing pitcher to last eight innings in a postseason start at Fenway since Cleveland’s Charles Nagy went eight in the 1998 Division Series.
Ryne Stanek pitched a perfect ninth while the rest of Houston’s relievers rested. Astros starters had not lasted three innings all series, pitching to a 18.90 ERA in the first four games and giving up 10 homers — including a record three grand slams.
Valdez was not much better, allowing two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in Game 1.
“I didn’t get frustrated at all. I wasn’t down on myself,” Valdez said. “What I did was I decided I’m going to work really hard so that when I come out here for the next outing, I’m going to be as 100% ready as I can be, to demonstrate to my team what I’m capable of, to demonstrate to my team that I can come out here and compete with any team in the league.
“So I just worked the entire time and I had my mindset set that I was just going to come out and have a way better outing,” he said. “And that’s what I was able to do tonight.”
Valdez retired the first 12 batters on Wednesday — eight on grounders, four on strikeouts. Devers singled to lead off the fifth, then Valdez bounced the next pitch off J.D. Martinez’s leg. The Astros escaped when Hunter Renfroe grounded into a double play and Alex Verdugo bounced out to first.
Sale started almost as well, allowing just two hits — both to Alvarez — in his first five innings. But he walked Jose Altuve to start the sixth, then Michael Brantley nubbed one toward third. Devers fielded it and made the throw in time but Schwarber dropped it at first; after sliding into second, Altuve popped up and took off for third, which was uncovered.
Brantley moved up to second on a groundout to the pitcher, then Alvarez doubled to left, scoring two to make it 3-0 and chasing Sale. Ryan Brasier struck out Carlos Correa before giving up an RBI double to Yuli Gurriel and a two-run single to Jose Siri that made it 6-0.
Brantley added an RBI single in the seventh, and Gurriel singled in two more in the ninth.
Sale was charged with four runs — two earned — on three hits and two walks, striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings.
“I was good for five, and then I sucked for one,” he said. “I told myself coming into this game I had a job to do; obviously didn’t get it done. But I left (it all) out there on that mound tonight, that’s for damn sure.”
The Red Sox had won seven straight postseason games at home — dating to the 2018 ALCS — before blowing an eighth-inning lead on Tuesday night. They had never lost back-to-back postseason games under manager Alex Cora.
Nathan Eovaldi, who won Game 2 but came on in relief and lost in Game 4, will start Friday for Boston. Baker said he had not decided on a starter.
Nine thoughts from the Toronto Raptors season opening loss to the Washington Wizards – NBA CA
With plenty of new faces on the roster, the young Raptors trailed for most of the game and despite a late rally in the fourth quarter where they got it to within 10 points, their poor shooting caught up with them.
For more on this game, we have you covered with some thoughts below.
1. Scottie Barnes is as advertised
The No.4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft was inserted into the starting lineup and made his presence felt from the jump.
The 20-year-old was aggressive looking for his shot as he attacked the rim, not settling for jumpers and while he only finished with one assist, his passing really stood out as he facilitated the offence for stretches at the elbow.
…Not to mention this skyhook!
Scottie got that ol’ school in the bag pic.twitter.com/jjq5n9p2N9
– Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 21, 2021
He finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal, and was tied with Fred VanVleet for the most field goals on the night, hitting 5-of-13.
It wsn’t all smooth sailing for the rookie, who had three turnovers and three fouls in the first half alone, but as the game wore on, he showed flashes of his elite potential
Until Pascal Siakam returns from injury, it will be interesting to see if Nick Nurse sticks with Barnes in the starting lineup.
2. Dalano Banton’s dazzling debut
The first-ever Canadian drafted by the Raptors entered the game with 25 seconds left in the third quarter to a big applause from the home crowd and he nearly blew the lid off the arena just seconds later.
With his first shot of the game, he connected on a half-court shot at the buzzer, that cut the deficit to 81-59 heading into the fourth.
– Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 21, 2021
In his 12 minutes on court, he recorded seven points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal on 3-of-4 from the field.
His one assist found a cutting Chris Boucher for an emphatic dunk.
– Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 21, 2021
“He was a big factor for the improved pace and the improved offence,” Nurse said of Banton post-game.
3. A cold shooting night
Through the first three quarters, the Raptors couldn’t buy a bucket as the Wizards led by as many as 29 points.
They eventually found a spark early in the fourth quarter with a big lineup of Banton, Barnes, Gary Trent Jr. Chris Boucher, and Khem Birch, but by then it was too late. On the night they connected on just 30-of-97 (30.9 percent) from the field and 7-of-34 (20.6 percent) from the 3-point line.
While their ball movement at times looked crisp, they simply couldn’t finish off plays.
4. Siakam’s absence felt
With Anunoby and VanVleet their two primary offensive weapons combining to shoot 8-of-37 (21.6 percent) tonight, the absence of All-Star forward Pascal Siakam was evident as the Raptors struggled to get easy looks, especially in the half-court.
Siakam is on his way back after undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season and is expected to return to the court in mid-November.
5. The defence has some work to do
As is the case with any young team, the defensive side of the floor is always going to be a concern and the Raptors have some work to do.
Too often in the first half, the Wizards guards were able to stroll into the paint and get good looks at the rim, with Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie and Raul Neto taking advantage.
The Wizards feasted at the rim tonight, outscoring the Raptors 56-40 in the paint.
6. Achiuwa shows flashes
After an impressive pre-season, precious Achiuwa got the start at center on opening night, showing flashes of his potential as a small-ball five.
His energy and activity was evident from the outset as he deflected passes, hustled for rebounds and tried to finish at the rim, but his enthusiasm caught up with him as he picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
– Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 20, 2021
7. Harrell back to his Sixth Man form
It’s just one game, but Washington Wizards big man Montrezl Harrell looked back to his Sixth Man of the Year winning form with an impressive performance off the bench tonight.
He poured in 22 points and nine rebounds on an efficient 9-of-11 from the field.
– Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) October 21, 2021
8. Drake in the house
Raptors Global Ambassador and No. 1 fan Drake was in the building, doing his best to help out the home team and get under Montrezl Harrell’s skin.
In the third quarter, he got into it with Harrell, who was called for a technical afterwards.
Drake got Montrezl Harrell T’d up after they exchanged words 💀 pic.twitter.com/T7Xq40Ryxp
– Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 21, 2021
9. What’s next for the Raptors?
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Braves blast four HRs, beat Dodgers for 3-1 lead in NLCS – TSN
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Behind the red-hot bat of Eddie Rosario, the Atlanta Braves are one win away from their first World Series appearance since 1999.
All they need to do is put away the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Easier said than done.
After all, the Braves were in exactly the same position last year and failed to finish the job.
Rosario homered twice in his second four-hit game of the NL Championship Series and six Atlanta pitchers combined on a four-hitter, giving the Braves a 9-2 victory Wednesday for a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven playoff.
Game 5 is Thursday in Los Angeles. Last year, the Dodgers also trailed 0-2 and 1-3 against Atlanta in the NLCS before roaring back to win three straight games at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.
“As we saw last year, winning a game is hard, especially a veteran team like this that we’re playing,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “But I feel good about our club just from what we experienced last year and where these guys are.”
Adam Duvall and Freddie Freeman also homered for the Braves, who bounced right back from blowing a late lead in an agonizing loss Tuesday to end their 10-game skid at Dodger Stadium.
“I feel like everyone has really hunkered down and dug their heels in and everyone is really focused,” Rosario said through a translator. “That’s something that I’m really proud to be a part of.”
Rosario became the first player to have two four-hit games in a League Championship Series. He drove in four runs and scored three while continuing his torrid postseason hitting, finishing a double short of the cycle. He homered in the second inning, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and clocked a three-run homer in the ninth.
“As soon as I hit that first home run I just thought to myself, ‘Wow, I feel amazing right now,’” Rosario said, “so I kind of just carried that confidence into my other at-bats going forward.”
Rosario hit for the cycle last month against San Francisco, achieving the feat on just five total pitches.
“I’ve been using that bat that I hit for the cycle with and it has not disappointed. I had that double remaining and I’m like, ‘Man, this bat has not let me down yet,'” he said. “As soon as I hit that second one out, I go, `Oh well, there goes the double.'”
The Dodgers will need to jump-start their offense to have a shot at another NLCS comeback. Their first five hitters — Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, NL batting champion Trea Turner, Will Smith and Gavin Lux — were a combined 0 for 17 in Game 4.
Los Angeles, which had won 18 of 19 at home going back to the regular season, has won six consecutive postseason elimination games dating to last year.
“I feel good about it,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We have a very resilient team, a very tough team, and it’s not going to get much tougher than facing Max Fried in an elimination game, but we’ve done it before.”
Rosario was acquired from Cleveland on July 30 as the Braves remade their depleted outfield before the trade deadline.
What a find he’s been.
The left fielder has hit safely in every game of this postseason, piling up 14 hits so far — including a walk-off single in Game 2 against the Dodgers. He has struck out only once.
Rosario is 10 for 17 (.588) with two homers and six RBIs in the NLCS.
“He’s been looking so good at the plate, hitting balls hard,” Freeman said.
Atlanta’s four homers tied a postseason franchise record.
Each of the series’ first three games was decided by one run in the last two innings. But when it got late this time, the wild-card Dodgers couldn’t generate any comeback magic.
Atlanta opener Jesse Chavez combined with Drew Smyly, Chris Martin, A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith to hold down the Dodgers’ offense. Los Angeles didn’t get a hit until the fifth and was limited to one the rest of the way. Smyly went 3 1/3 innings for the win.
The Braves wasted no time jumping all over 20-game winner Julio Urías, who gave up three homers in 2 2/3 innings. It was the second time he allowed that many in his career; the first time was in his second major league game in 2016.
Rosario drove an 0-2 pitch into the left-field pavilion leading off the second and Duvall followed with a shot to center, the first time the Braves homered back-to-back in the postseason since Oct. 3, 2002, against San Francisco in Game 2 of a Division Series.
Freeman went deep leading off the third. Two outs later, Rosario tripled to deep right on a two-strike pitch, sliding headfirst into the bag.
“He kind of smiled at me after he hit it in there just because it was one of those things where it just, a hot hitter and he kind of knows where he’s going,” Urías said through a translator.
Duvall was intentionally walked and Joc Pederson singled, scoring Rosario for a 4-0 lead against Urías.
The Dodgers, who won 106 games during the regular season, closed to 5-2 in the fifth on pinch-hitter AJ Pollock’s two-out, two-run single. Justin Turner singled for their first hit of the game and Cody Bellinger followed with a single and stolen base.
Freeman’s RBI double in the ninth made it 6-2 before Rosario went deep.
Urías didn’t record a strikeout until the fourth, when Dansby Swanson and Freeman went down swinging back-to-back to end the left-hander’s first clean inning. Urías gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.
The only other player with a pair of four-hit games in a postseason series was Milwaukee Brewers Hall of Famer Robin Yount in the 1982 World Series against St. Louis.
Braves: RHP Huascar Ynoa was scratched from his scheduled start with shoulder inflammation. He was replaced on the roster by left-hander Dylan Lee. Ynoa is not eligible to return for the World Series, if the Braves advance.
Dodgers: Justin Turner is done for the season after injuring his hamstring in the seventh, Roberts said. Turner screamed as he was retired on a double-play ball. He limped off the field and was replaced in the eighth.
Fried starts Game 5 for the Braves in his Los Angeles hometown. The Dodgers planned a bullpen game, a strategy they’ve used twice this postseason, going 1-1 in those games.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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